OGDEN — Ahead of what figures to be one of the biggest tourist draws in the city’s history, officials are trying to make Ogden easier to navigate for newcomers.
The city administration is working on a project to install “wayfinding” signs at approximately 70 locations in the downtown area. The initiative, which was identified in the city’s 2016 rebranding and marketing campaign, will feature new, decorative signage that will help guide visitors and residents to retail establishments, pedestrian and bicycle access routes, historic city landmarks and other common destinations.
To complete the project, the administration wants to use $50,000 from a fund that was created for the rebranding effort. The fund currently has about $250,000 in it, according to city council documents. The transfer is one of 12 items in a fiscal 2019 budget amendment being considered by the Ogden City Council. The city had also previously set aside $33,000 for the project.
Ogden City Engineer Justin Anderson said the hope is to have the new signs installed some time in the spring, before events begin to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the driving of the Golden Spike.
Nearly 150 years ago, the first transcontinental railroad across the United States was completed in Northern Utah. On May 10, 1869, the ceremonial Golden Spike was driven at Promontory Summit in Box Elder County, connecting the rail lines of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific.
Built between 1863 and 1869, the transcontinental line connected the Pacific Coast at San Francisco Bay with the existing Eastern U.S. railway. The railroad revolutionized the American West with a dependable transportation system that brought Western states economic prosperity through the relatively inexpensive and speedy movement of both goods and people.
The railroad played a major role in the history of Northern Utah, specifically Ogden. Several events will occur in and around Ogden and Weber and Box Elder counties as the 150th anniversary is celebrated next year.
“With the sesquicentennial happening, we wanted to get these signs up and be ready for that,” Anderson said. “The lead time to do all that, to get parts ordered and get things rolling, we actually started all the way back in July.”
The wayfinding initiative is also identified in the city’s Transportation Master Plan. Anderson said money isn’t available to complete the full scope of the project, but the downtown area should be covered by the upcoming first phase.
Ogden Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson said the city is working with Weber County and Visit Ogden on a “bigger picture” effort to install the signs near other critical points throughout Weber County.
Johnson said he and Mayor Mike Caldwell recently met with Weber County Commissioners to discuss the project.
“Their’s won’t be identical, but they are actually going to interface with ours very well,” Johnson said. “As they do signs in the county, they want to see some continuity.”